Every human and
animal on this planet must have the means to communicate with one another.
Dogs are not excluded from this fact. The problem arises when dogs
and their owners cannot clearly communicate with each other. All too
often owners contribute to the communication barrier without realizing
they are doing so. As humans, we cannot expect our canine family
members to understand our level of reasoning or any other emotions
we feel every day. But we do exactly that as well as expect our
canines to understand the English language. I am sure some may
disagree with that statement, but hopefully after reading this entire page
you will have a more clear understanding of dog behavior and how they
Barking is a dog's
way of communicating just as our way of communication is
through speech. Dogs bark for many different reasons.
They bark when they feel the need to alert owners to possible threats,
in play with their owners or other dogs. They can be taught to bark
if they desire to go potty in the yard. Many dogs bark because they
are left alone to much and they learn to focus on any little thing to
vocalize over. But much too often dogs learn to bark for attention
from their owner or to obtain something they want from an owner (treats,
toys or food, etc). Some breeds of dogs tend to vocalize more than
other breeds. But this in itself is no reason to believe barking
cannot be curbed or controlled through training.
Let's discuss why
dogs bark outside of the house. Since dogs are not
human, they do not have the power of foresight. They do not
understand the person that walks by the house every day lives in your
neighborhood. Many dogs feel their territory is encompassed of
everything they can see visually every day from their yard. So, when
Harry from down the road walks by, the dog barks its territorial warning,
Harry walks on by. The dog in his mind believes he has defended his
territory and frightened Harry into going on away from his home. Every
time the dog warns Harry to leave, he does so. This serves to reward
the dog for barking at Harry. But most owners would believe their
dog to be "not too bright" when in fact the dog is just being a dog and
thinking like a dog! In cases like this the owner would train or
change the dog's behavior when Harry walks by.
that bothers owners is their dog barking AT THEM.
This might happen when you are attempting to watch a movie or talk on the
phone or many other times when you change your focus to something other
than your dog. The owner is actually at the base of this problem.
Take the case of the owner who attempts to watch a movie but is
constantly interrupted by the dog sitting in front of him barking loudly
or even climbing on the owner while barking. The owner takes his
attention from the television to look at the dog and verbally correct him.
This rewarded the dog for the barking behavior by giving the dog the
attention it desired even if it was negative attention. The same
stands any time you yell at your dog for barking. Yell enough and it
is no longer a threat to your dog. It is simply the attention he
Now, for a tip on
dealing with the dog that barks at the owner! The
next time your dog looks at you and barks, whether demanding attention,
food or play you must IMMEDIATELY turn and leave. The dog's
barking behavior is to gain the owner's attention. Your eye
contact is what the dog is hoping to gain. The owner has probably re
enforced the behavior without realizing it. If the very second the looked
at you and barked you turned away your dog will soon understand the
barking itself is taking the attention he wanted away from him. If
you have a dog that jumps on you or pulls you and/or follows you when you
turn away, leave the room and shut a door behind you. The second the
dog stops barking walk back into the room. You must treat the bark
as a light switch flipped by the dog to turn your attention off.
Only after consistently doing this, will you begin to curb this behavior
until you totally cause it to become extinct. For dogs with very bad
barking habits it will take longer. But it will work!